Big bite of the Big Apple

Texas billionaire's historic new investment will transform Manhattan skyline

Texas billionaire's new investment will transform Manhattan skyline

Grand Hyatt Grand Central Station New York
The Grand Hyatt will be razed and replaced with a massive mixed-use development. Grand Hyatt New York/Facebook

Texas billionaire Michael Dell is gearing up to help reshape one of the most iconic parcels of real estate in New York City’s glitzy Manhattan borough.

MSD Capital LP, the New York-based private investment firm for Dell and his family, is a partner in a Manhattan project that will raze the Grand Hyatt New York hotel and replace it with a massive mixed-use development, The Wall Street Journal first reported February 7.

MSD Capital is teaming up with New York developer TF Cornerstone Inc. to buy the property, tear it down, and put up about 2 million square feet of new space, including offices, retail shops, and a scaled-down, 500-room Grand Hyatt.

The four-star Grand Hyatt is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it sits next to one of Manhattan’s landmarks, Grand Central Terminal. For another, the Grand Hyatt was Donald Trump’s first major real estate development in Manhattan, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper says it’s unclear when demolition of the hotel will start or how tall the new structure will be. City and state officials still must approve the project.

The current 26-story, nearly 1,300-room hotel was built in 1919 as the Beaux-Arts-style Commodore Hotel. In 1976, Trump rebuilt and remodeled the hotel in partnership with the Hyatt hotel chain. Twenty years later, Trump sold his stake in the hotel for $140 million.

“We look forward to the opportunity to bring a new icon to New York’s skyline and help advance the [city’s] goals for desperately needed new development and infrastructure in East Midtown,” says Jeremy Shell, a principal at TF Cornerstone.

The Grand Hyatt project is far from MSD Capital’s first foray into real estate. In the past 15 years, the real estate team at MSD has funneled more than $2 billion into three dozen real estate deals, according to the firm’s website. Among those deals were the purchases of two luxury resorts in Hawaii: the Four Seasons Maui and the Four Seasons Hualalai.

Dell — whose net worth is estimated at close to $34 billion, making him the richest person in Austin and among the 20 richest people in the U.S. — set up MSD Capital in 1998 to handle investments for the Dell family. One of its highest-profile investments is in the UFC, the professional mixed martial arts organization.

And this isn't Dell's first foray into Manhattan real estate. In 2014, Dell paid $100.47 million for a Manhattan penthouse, setting the record for the most expensive home sale ever in New York, The Journal reported in 2018.

The primary source of Dell’s wealth is Dell Technologies Inc., the Round Rock company where he’s founder, chairman and CEO. In 2018, the tech giant posted revenue of around $79 billion.